Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Four years spent competing and learning

PUBLICATION: The Ottawa Citizen
DATE: 2005.07.05
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Special Section
PAGE: E6
BYLINE: Martin Cleary
SOURCE: The Ottawa Citizen
ILLUSTRATION: Photo: Bruno Schlumberger, The Ottawa Citizen / LidijaLatifovic, Ridgemont's senior female athlete of the year, represented the Spartans in basketball, rugby, soccer and cheerleading. She also had an academically successful year and accepted a $20,000 scholarship to the U of O.; Photo: (Courtnay Pilypaitis); Photo: (Colin Boyle); Photo: (Samantha Morris); Photo: (Chris Armstrong); Photo: (Esther Mailhot); Photo: (Alexandre Wright); Photo: (Stacey Armstrong); Photo: (Shannon Kritsch); Photo: (Corey Crilly); Photo: (Gendy Blackman); Photo: (Miranda Eng); Colour Photo: (Mike Kenny); Photo: (Alena Martinelli); Colour Photo: (Shawn Cunningham); Photo: (Sarah Kirkpatrick); Photo: (Rob Chieffallo); Photo: (Brett Hawley); Photo: (Rachael Hood); Photo: (LeHoa Tan); Photo: (Samuel Maley); Photo: (Danielle Fainer); Photo: (Jason Friedman)
NOTE: Athletes of the Year

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Four years spent competing and learning: Lidija Latifovic, Ridgemont

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Lidija Latifovic got the most out of her four-year experience at Ridgemont High School.

All you have to do is review her academic file and see her play sports to understand that she learned a lot in her interscholastic quadrennial.

For the fourth consecutive year, Latifovic, who was born and raised in Bosnia and moved to Ottawa from Croatia in 1996, was a distinguished member of Ridgemont's honour roll.

With a final Grade 12 average expected to approach 90 per cent, she accepted a four-year $20,000 academic scholarship to study biochemistry at the University of Ottawa for 2005-06..

As an athlete, Latifovic capped her high school career by representing the Spartans in basketball, rugby, soccer and cheerleading and was selected Ridgemont's senior female athlete of the year for 2004-05.

For the second year in a row, the well-spoken and humble Latifovic was named the most valuable player of the rugby team and most improved player on the basketball team.

"(Sports) taught me what determination meant and showed me the importance of making a commitment and sticking to it," says Latifovic, who didn't know any English when her family arrived in Ottawa. She was nine.

Latifovic wasn't a star athlete. Instead, she was a steady contributor, reliable when it came to practices and games, and enthusiastic about learning each sport and her role.

She viewed sport not purely as a means to glory through a championship, but simply as a way of developing a healthy lifestyle.

"It's more of a stress reliever," explains Latifovic, a cabinet member on the school's student council. "So much goes on in a day, and, when you're on the field (or court), all you have to do is focus on basketball or rugby. It gives you a break from all else."

In basketball, she was a forward, whose strengths of defence and rebounding helped Ridgemont reach the National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association senior Tier 2 quarterfinals.

"I like the teamwork because it builds your character," says Latifovic, who gave a speech about multiculturalism at Ridgemont to the Senate on National Children's Day in 2003.

Whether athletics or academics, Latifovic says she'll always treasure her days at Ridgemont.

"I gained a lot. I grew up a lot. I will not forget it."

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